When we think of the automotive industry, the entrepreneur is not the first word that comes to mind. We associate the sector with the established big brands and players, not start-ups or stand-alone businesses. There is much to be learned however from an entrepreneurial mindset in managing our people, looking at succession planning and adapting to the internal and global challenges the automotive industry faces.

Diversity of thought is essential if we are to have any hope of attracting leaders for today and developing our people’s future. Simply put, we must step away from the dealership mentality of the past. Utilising the entrepreneurial mindset may just be the answer to innovating, problem-solving as well as motivating and engaging our employees.

What are our talent attraction strategies?

We need to take a multifaceted approach and consider how different identities and backgrounds will need to be examined. If we take Gen Z for example, we must recognise that they are the first generation that has grown up in an entirely digital age. They were also born into an inclusive world and place a high value on diversity and representation in the workplace. Gen Z also arguably have a greater sense of the self, personal development, and well-being.

Agile Leadership 

The old-style command control leadership model has long since died out, but that does not mean that dealerships and fleet management depots have embraced diversity or a more entrepreneurial approach to leading their organisations.

It’s evident that with the huge shifts in the way, we work over the last few years, coupled with geopolitical, economic and supply chain challenges leadership must be reimagined. Unlocking organisational bottlenecks, and breaking down silos or “opaque hierarchies” is the key to building collaborative organisations and structures of autonomous teams that are agile and adaptable.

ESG and net zero targets

The automotive industry faces a raft of challenges and change with ESG concerns high on the agenda for investors as well as customers.

Who is the next generation of talent that can unlock the potential of technology as well as meet net zero and the desire for sustainable fleet management?

There will be bumps in the road, but this path to building innovative leaders with entrepreneurial mindsets is the only way the automotive industry can hope to both weather the storm and evolve to meet customer and commercial needs. If we create space for new leadership practices, we can empower people and build teams with creative and innovative mindsets. By their very nature, entrepreneurs build progressive cultures of creativity, critical, thinking and spaces where ideas constantly feed into a collaborative network. This way of working in the automotive industry breaks down the ego and view of each management depot as the kingdom on its own with a leader sitting on a throne.

In a world where brand visibility, perception and customer experience are now front and centre, we must enable spaces for cross-collaboration through multiple depots. We can build on the entrepreneurial mindset to promote ideas-led leadership and build our talent attraction and succession planning to future-proof the automotive industry.